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Archive for July, 2008

It seems to be a constant battle – the one between thriving and surviving.

Just when I think the thriving mode is in full-tilt, something happens that makes me wonder if I can make it through the afternoon much less through life. I know what survival-mode feels like and looks like and is. I have been to the deep, dark, airless places of adversity that have sapped every ounce of energy and hope from me.

Those are the big times when even survival seems just a distant pinprick of light.

But what about the day-to-day moments when overcoming the next project or deadline or list of errands seems far away and unreachable. When we find ourselves sighing with tiredness or nervousness or from being overwhelmed with the minutia of life.

How do we change gears and turn our attention to the thriving end of the balance and away from just surviving? This is my inaugural post on my new blog. I have debated a long time whether or not I would take the blogging plunge and I feel like now is the time. I’m not sure why I chose this topic as my first post. Maybe because it reflects my real life and what I think is “normal” for many people. I don’t know. But I do know that it’s on my mind a lot – this idea of living life the best you can in spite of our circumstances. And the topic of surviving vs. thriving is how I delineate this constant inner battle we all face of the art of choosing joy.

I’ll just mention 3 things today that help me thrive instead of survive. I have a feeling these ideas and other ideas like them will come up in future posts.

1. Be grateful.

As my husband Jason, says in his motivational speeches,

There is not enough room in the human heart for gratitude and depression to exist at the same time.

This is not to say that people who are clinically depressed are not grateful, simply that we cannot be grateful and depressed at the exact same moment in time. If this is true with finding happiness, it is also true in embracing each moment of life.

If you are struggling in the battle of thriving vs. surviving, stop for a minute to be grateful. Think of 5 things you are grateful for and see if you come closer to being able to cope and manage the stresses of daily life.

2. Take a deep breath.

I find that the more I rush and the more I worry about all of the curves and bumps that entail real-life, I forget to breathe, to pause. When you feel like the pressures of life are taking over who you are and that sense of drowning that comes when a lack of hope creeps in….breathe. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply and tell yourself, “OK, calm down. You can do this. Just stay calm.”

Some days I have to go through this exercise a dozen times. Other days I don’t even think about it because things are rolling along just like I want. Whatever the day, the exercise still helps to head me closer to a life of thriving.

3. Don’t be a downer. . .

…about yourself, about others, about your circumstances, about life in general. To stay in the thriving-mode we have to stop complaining, stop verbalizing negativity. I feel like I am a very positive person, but when I actually start looking at what I am saying and thinking when I’m just surviving I’m shocked by what I find. Focusing on problems with this situation, that person, this circumstance lead to an attitude of survival-only. Criticism instead of optimism.

So, zip it. Zip the negativity. Zip the harshness.

Three ways to thrive instead of just survive. Now, I am well aware that this list is only the beginning of the good life, the steps to happiness and real living. But for me, when survival mode is at it’s height, it’s best to start simple and focus on the little things that can tip the balance away from just surviving and closer to thriving.

One, two, three. It’s a place to start.

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